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“I have lost a best friend” Paul Nagle and Killarney pay tribute to Craig Breen




By Sean Moriarty

Tributes have been paid in Killarney to World Rally Championship star Craig Breen who died tragically in a testing accident in Croatia last Thursday.

Breen and Nagle celebrate one of their six podium finishes together. Photo: Hyundai Motorsport Media

Craig Breen and Paul Nagle at the finish line of 2022 Rally Spain the Killarney man's last event in the World Rally Championship. Photo: Sportsfile

Irish fans travelled in their droves to follow Craig Breen and Paul Nagle's exploits all over the world. Photo: Sean Moriarty

Breen at the Fafe Rally in Portugal earlier this year. Photo: Hyundai Motorsport Media

The Waterford man was a hugely popular figure in Kerry and that is reflected in the glowing tributes that have been paid to the 33-year-old.

Breen had several connections to the county and as a result, he was a frequent visitor to the area.

His father Ray has strong family connections to the Strand Road area of Tralee.

His best results as a WRC driver came with Killarney man Paul Nagle by his side.

The pair did over 50 rallies together all over the world, and highlights include winning the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in 2019 and finishing third overall in the world-famous Monte Carlo Rally last season.

Breen had nine World Rally Championship podiums to his name and the Aghadoe man was beside him for six of those.

They won rallies all over Europe including the 2019 Ypres Rally in Belgium which is considered the biggest rally in that country, and several Italian rally championship events, one of the highlights was their victory in the fabled Rallye Sanremo.

Breen’s last official engagement in Ireland was last Tuesday when he attended a promotional day for young junior drivers in County Galway, two days before the ill-fated test in Croatia.

“The world has lost a hero. Ireland has lost a champion and I have lost a best friend. Craig was more than a rally driver to [my wife] Cathy and I, he was family,” said Paul.
“The motorsport world is in mourning because Craig touched so many lives and homes. From grassroots rallying on Tuesday to World Rally Championship testing on Thursday just shows the character you were. He was a clubman at heart. Our journey was amazing, filled with fun, laughter, tears, and the craic. Thank you for the memories, they will last a lifetime. I am going to miss you.”

Breen and Nagle won the 2019 Rally of the Lakes.

Dermot Healy was the Clerk of the Course on that occasion.

“He was a huge supporter of our events, he loved the craic and the stages down here,” said Dermot. “A big factor was his navigator Paul Nagle and he helped Paul realise his dream of winning the Rally of the Lakes and the Killarney Historic Rally. He was always an absolute gentleman to deal with, I cannot speak highly enough about the guy.”

Nagle was not his only Kerry co-driver. His Aghadoe neighbour Mikie Galvin contested the Wexford Rally with Craig in 2021.

“I was absolutely devastated about the news,” said Galvin.
“I was always thankful for that [Wexford] opportunity. From there we became quite friendly and kept in contact quite a bit and I was always looking forward to doing something again with him, but sadly that won't happen now.”

Breen possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport and the characters involved in it.
It was something that Galvin witnessed first-hand in Wexford.

“One of the most striking things about Craig was, I couldn't believe that day in Wexford how he knew everything about everybody and their rally and what they were doing. He was genuinely interested in everybody. I just couldn't get over how he knew everything about everyone. He was really connected with everybody. He must have been talking to hundreds of people every single day because he knew about people “

Craig’s most recent visit to Kerry was in February for the Killarney Forestry Rally where he launched and funded a Junior Rally Championship support project for young Irish drivers.

He was also in Kerry for the Kingdom of Kerry Rally Championship prizegiving night over the Christmas period last year.

Breen was laid to rest in his native Slieverue, County Waterford on Tuesday.

He is survived by his father Ray, mother Jackie and sister Kellie, extended family, and a large circle of friends inside and outside the motorsport world.

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Fassbender ready for second Le Mans appearance

Local Hollywood A-lister Michael Fassbender is in the final preparation stages for his second appearance at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. The iconic endurance race is celebrating its […]




Local Hollywood A-lister Michael Fassbender is in the final preparation stages for his second appearance at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The iconic endurance race is celebrating its 100th edition next weekend.

The Fossa star has already arrived in the famous French twon where he is involved in a week-long series of engagements including drivers’ parades, autograph sessions and more serious appointments like car safety checks, practice and qualifying.

Like last year, when he finished 16th in the LMGTE Am class, Fassbender has been entered in to the event by the German Proton Competition team with Estonian Martin Rump and the Austrian Richard Lietz.

Fassbender dreams of following the trajectory of fellow Hollywood actors Patrick Dempsey who was second in LMGTE Am class in 2016 and Paul Newman who finished second overall in 1979.


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Ireland’s oldest citizen has Killarney connections

Ireland’s oldest woman met with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this week. Máirín Hughes, who turned 109 on May 22 has strong Killarney connections. The previous record […]




Ireland’s oldest woman met with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin this week.

Máirín Hughes, who turned 109 on May 22 has strong Killarney connections.

The previous record was held by 107-year-old Nancy Stewart who died on September 10 2021.

Although born in Belfast, Máirín went to school in the Mercy Convent. Her father was a customs and excise officer and the family moved around a lot eventually coming to Killarney after spells in County Down and Dublin.

Her mother came from the Rathmore area and her father was from Newmarket in County Cork.

She attended the Mercy Convent and has, in previous interviews, recalled growing up on the shores of Lough Lein.

“Neighbours who had three children were given the job of taking me to school,” she said. “They were annoyed because the children were going to school for two or three years but I was put in to the same class as them – my mother had taught me.”

In 2021 she featured in the book ‘Independence Memories: A People’s Portrait of the Early Days of the Irish Nation’, sharing stories of being kept in school in Killarney during an attack on the RIC barracks down the road.

In 1924 she started a degree in science and a diploma in education at University College Cork, before working in the pathology lab in University College Cork’s Department of Medicine for 16 years.

last year she recalled her story on the podcast: ‘Living History – Irish Life and Lore’.

During the broadcast she talked about her parents’ membership of the Gaelic League in 1910; the Spanish Flu in Ireland in 1918; The Black and Tans in Killarney in 1921; the early days of the new Free State; Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 1932, visiting the Basket Islands in 1929; and working in the UCC medical laboratory from 1932 until 1948.

This week President Michael D. Higgins hosted an afternoon tea event to celebrate the important role that a variety of people have and can play in different communities and Máirín was among the guests of honour.

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